Phillipe Zourgane

Free Zones
spatial regulations, colonial systems, liberation


Colonization did offer the opportunity for architecture and urbanism to experiment new spatial regulations. The setting of a new regulation systems in those "new territories" did facilitate those experimentations with no impediment. In fact, societies of slavery, by nature, await from architecture to develop systems of filters, fences, boundaries, that can guaranty the security of the white man. Importation and use of those colonial systems are now effective in the contemporary city, worldwide. On the contrary, we will focus ourselves on the fact that architecture can become a tool for struggle against those control systems, on the fact that architecture has a power.

"It is difficult to overlook the fact that …..third world voices ….speak within and to discourses familiar to the “west”….The third world, far from being confined to its assigned space, has penetrated the inner sanctum of the “First World” in the process of being ”Thirld Worlded” – arousing, inciting, affiliating with the subordinated others in the first world … to connect with minority voices". p.354 Homi Bhabha.

It is this back and go between post colonial world and, the western world in becoming metisse and creolized against its will, that drives us to articulate this work with a series of case studies situated in the world said as postcolonial. Those cases studies all have the peculiarity to be, what we are calling, free zones, spaces that are temporally escaping from certain types of controls. The study of those free zones allow us to understand in a positive way how architecture can be though as a prolongation of the body and help to energy liberation.

Free Zone definition
By Free Zone, we intend, zone of temporary sovereignty, that is to say a physical space that escapes from all administrative rules. In those spaces, practice becomes a potential theory. Here, it’s the game itself that makes evolve the rules of the game according to the player and to the strategy; a theory in permanent making and permanently in practice. Some districts of informal settlements are using this system, developing themselves according to Free Zone logic.

If we consider that the power of architecture, can be seen only from the singularities that compose it, can show the dynamic of its enrichment, density and freedom, it can’t be seen from the standardized products made for the generic city.

Those Free Zones are tactile spaces, only a non hierarchical narrative can fit for their understanding: not a preconceived analysis frame but a narrative that focuses on the links between space and the body. Case studies allow us to articulate in the same agencement, the "flesh" of the physical body and the "flesh" of architecture. The important is the body in its material aspect: the singularities of desires and of the machinic and chemical agencements.

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Philippe Zourgane is an architect, researcher and writer based in Paris and La Reunion (Indian Ocean). He is co-founder of the RozO architecture landscape environment office. RozO is developing innovative projects in the Indian Ocean and in Europe that are highly involved in eco-design and an accurate utilisation of the territories potentialities to produce an architecture of high creation standards. RozO has developed the Ste Thérèse nursery in Reunion Island, a project widely published in the USA, Spain, Italy and France, winner of the UK “Making space, architecture for young children” first prize in 2005. The bioclimatic housing project Marronnaz won the 2nd prize Cityscape Architectural Review award in Dubai, 2005. He is currently lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture of Marne La Vallée - Paris (France) and part – time lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture of Normandie. He has taught design studios Mimar Sinan – Istanbul (Turkey), CEPT – Ahmedabad (India), Faculty of Architecture of Versailles – Paris (France). He is lecturing widely in Africa, in Asia and in Europe. He is a founding member of Vuthemas, institute for Indian Ocean architectural research and creation, and co-editor with Séverine Roussel, of the book “Architecture and Vegetation, Hybrid Home spaces” (David Krut/Monografik, 2006).

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